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Bush National Security Adviser Backs Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal

Former Bush National Security Adviser Brent Snowcroft

As Jeb Bush pushes torture as a feature, not a bug of his future presidency, his father’s former national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, is telling Al-Monitor that “To turn our back on [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA] would be an abdication of America’s unique role and responsibility, incurring justified dismay among our allies and friends.”

Jeb, infamously, could not decide whether the invasion of Iraq was a feature or a bug of his brother’s administration. He finally hemmed and hawed his way into acknowledging that, knowing what we know now, it was a mistake. That didn’t stop him from saying Dubya, the man who brought the world to the brink of ruin in 2008, is his most trusted adviser.

Maybe, while he’s taking a break from ordering torture and launching nukes at Iran, Jeb can stare vacantly into space while enemies launch terrorist attacks on our country. Or he and Dubya can stare together. You know, a family thing.

Carl Levin and John Warner, two former senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, published an op-ed at Politico yesterday, arguing for the deal. These two senators have a lot of experience in foreign affairs and their voices deserve to be listened to.

They write,

We both were elected to the Senate in 1978 and privileged to have served together on the Senate Armed Services Committee for 30 years, during which we each held committee leadership positions of chairman or ranking minority member. We support the Iran Agreement negotiated by the United States and other leading world powers for many reasons, including its limitations on Iran’s nuclear activities, its strong inspections regime, and the ability to quickly re-impose sanctions should Iran violate its provisions.

However, they have a reason perhaps our collection of chickenhawks might even understand if they could understand that the military has value even when it is not being actively used:

“But we also see a compelling reason to support the agreement that has gotten little attention: Rejecting it would weaken the deterrent value of America’s military option.”

They point out that “it’s highly unlikely that our traditional European allies, let alone China and Russia, would support the use of the military option since we had undermined the diplomatic path.” We would be effectively isolating ourselves from the allies we would need in the event we felt military intervention necessary. The senators are talking here about “access rights, logistics, intelligence, and other critical support.”

Imagine that. We’re stronger with allies than without. Even Dubya knew that, for all his devotion to cowboy diplomacy and his asserted right to attack anybody who at any future date had a chance of becoming a threat to the U.S.

It is difficult to admit, but there is ample reason to believe our current crop of Republican leaders are even more myopic than George W. Bush. Bush understood – belatedly – that calling his Iran War a holy crusade was maybe a little over the top. But Republicans today, a decade later, positively relish the role of holy avengers, smiting uppity Islam in the name of their god.

What is it the New Testament says about the value of allies? You only need one: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Oh yeah, and there was that thing the crusaders liked to say while they were hammering their Muslim foes: “Deus Vult!” God Wills it!

These Republicans have a crusader’s knee-jerk reaction to anything Islamic and this hatred is fed by Darth Netanyahu in Israel. It doesn’t matter that Netanyahu’s own military and intelligence people disagree with his assessment of Iran. Netanyahu is trying to cover this up and Republicans are covering their ears.

Netanyahu is talking the language they like and that’s all they’re going to listen to. Surprisingly, they’re not the only ones listening, and Gallup tells us that Obama gets “low marks for his handling of Iran.” Only one in three Americans approve.

Apparently, Fox News has convinced Americans that “Iran’s development of nuclear weapons pose[s] a “critical” threat to the U.S.”

And what isn’t a critical threat for Republicans? They can’t accumulate enemies fast enough: Russia, Iran, ISIL, Ebola (ISIL + Ebola), Mexicans (Mexicans + Drugs), Democrats, Women, Liberals, Progessives, Blacks, Gays and Lesbians, Transgenders, Atheists. How do these creepy old white people live in the world they have created for themselves?

And how can we escape its consequences? You know, those of us who are sane?

The P5+1 agreement, the JCPOA, is a good deal. The only option Republicans have to offer is a war nobody wants, a war that would only serve to isolate America (as did the Bush administration) from the world. No problem for chickenhawks. Nobody is going to be shooting at them, after all.

Democrats, with one or two exceptions, back the president, and that’s as should be. He, after all, is our president, not Benjamin Netanyahu. It is a bug of Republican governance that they do not know who is an American and who is not unless they are crossing the Southern border. Then they are pretty quick to oppose anything foreigners want.

Republicans must realize they work for the American people, not for Benjamin Netanyahu, and that, as John Kerry put it, we don’t live in a world inhabited by Unicorns. Obama, forced to be the adult in the room yet again, recognizes this. Brent Snowcroft and others who support the Iran deal recognize this.

It is a shame congressional Republicans and sixteen presidential candidates prefer a fantasy world of their own making to our shared reality. The need to understand that peace isn’t just something that happens if you fail to declare war. You have to work for it. You have to give it a chance.

As Snowcroft points out, there is always the military deterrent as a last resort. It doesn’t have to be the first resort to work, and as we saw in Iraq, it doesn’t always work anyway.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Snowcroft was NSA to George W. Bush when in fact he was NSA to George H.W. Bush.

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